It’s a match: How do dating apps make money?

  • The digital experience enhances the online dating market
  • Tinder, owned by InterActiveCorp, sees around two billion swipes a day
  • Online dating is big business in today’s digital economy

What long-term trend are we observing?

Online dating is now widely, and increasingly, accessible thanks to the adoption of smartphones - those in the market for romance can now easily search for potential partners using a variety of criteria. Popular dating app Tinder sees around two billion swipes a day, resulting in one million dates a week, which is likely to pick up around key holidays like Valentine’s Day. In fact, roughly one-third of all relationships begin on a dating app.1

Online dating is also big business – annual revenue is forecast to increase by 60% from $1.58 billion in 2017 to $2.53 billion by 2024.2 The most successful online dating app to-date is Tinder, which was the third-highest ranked non-gaming app overall in 2020 by worldwide consumer spend, behind TikTok and YouTube.3

What does this mean for investors?

Most dating apps are free to download, but then users must pay to unlock extra features, such as Tinder’s $14.99 a month ‘Gold’ subscription which lets users see who has ‘liked’ them first. Apps also generate cash via in-app advertising, offering bars, restaurants and other businesses to a captive audience of consumers looking for fun date activities. Notably, the total number of online dating users is forecast to rise 57% from 178 million in 2017 to 279 million by 2024.4 We believe this will help increase the value proposition of online dating firms, as other companies look to advertise their services to reach a wider pool of customers.

IAC/InterActiveCorp, which owns a substantial stake in Match Group, owns and operates more than 45 subscription-based online dating services, including two of the highest-earning dating apps: Tinder and Plenty of Fish.5

By owning multiple brands catering to different needs, Match Group provides a breadth and purity of exposure to the modern dating economy. Indeed in Q3 2020, Match Group’s total revenue grew 18% year-on-year to $640 million, driven by a 16% rise in international paid subscribers.6


These data points underscore the long-term theme we see of people using connected devices to help them find solutions to age-old problems. This requires businesses to increasingly use data to understand their customers and customise their digital offering. The trend also  supports our approach of investing in companies operating across the digital economy.

Please note that all stocks and companies mentioned are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered an investment recommendation.


[1] IAC, Match Group, 2020

[2] Online dating worldwide, revenue in million US$, Statista, November 2020

[3] Top grossing apps worldwide for December 2020 (non-game), Sensor Tower, 5 January 2021

[4] Online dating worldwide, users in millions, Statista, November 2020

[5] Top grossing dating apps worldwide for August 2020, Sensor Tower, 21 September 2020

[6] 3Q 2020 Match Group Earnings Release, Match Group, 4 November 2020